Biden Team: ‘We’re Moving Toward a Time When COVID Won’t Disrupt Our Daily Lives…’

Le président Joe Biden brandit un masque KN95 alors qu'il fait le point sur son

President Joe Biden holds up a KN95 mask as he delivers an update on his « whole-of-government COVID-19 surge response » on January 13, 2022. (Photo by JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images)

( – Although cases and hospitalizations are « trending downward, » the time has not come to write off the threat posed by COVID; and the CDC’s mask recommendations are not changing at this time, President Biden’s White House COVID advisers said on Wednesday.

« The president has been clear that we’re moving toward a time when COVID won’t disrupt our daily lives — a time when COVID won’t be a constant crisis, so we’re no longer fearing lockdowns and shutdowns, but getting back to safely doing what we all love, » Jeff Zients, the White House COVID Response coordinator, told a news briefing on Wednesday.

« In doing so, we will rely on the powerful set of tools that have been built — the vaccines, the booster shots, treatment and testing. »

Zients said the White House team has been « reaching out to governors and outside public health experts and doctors and local public health officials on steps we should be taking to keep the country moving forward. »

A reporter asked CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky about the CDC’s recommendation that people continue to wear masks in indoor public settings where community transmission is high; and the CDC recommendation that universal masking be continued in the nation’s schools.

« Is that a recommendation you stand by, as states are also moving…to lift mask mandates for teachers and students in schools? » the reporter asked.

« We certainly understand the need and desire to be flexible, » Walensky said. But although cases and hospitalizations are falling, she said there is no change in the CDC’s recommendations « at this moment. »

« At this time, we continue to recommend masking in areas of high and substantial transmission. That’s much of the country right now, in public indoor settings, » Walensky said.

« And so we’re of course taking a look at this in real time and we’re evaluating rates of transmission as well as rates of severe outcomes as we look at updating and reviewing our guidance. »

What about governors who are dropping mask mandates? another reporter asked. « When it comes to masking mandates, should people be listening to the CDC or listening to their governors? »

« We’ve always said that these decisions are going to have to be made at the local level, » Walensky replied. « And that policies at the local level will look at local cases, they’ll look at how local hospitals are doing, they’ll look at local vaccination rates.

« And they, as I understand it, in many of these decisions, are using a phased approach.  Not all of these decisions are being made to stop things tomorrow…

And so, what I would say is, again, they have to be done at the local level, but I’m really encouraged that cases are continuing to drop dramatically; hospitalizations are continuing to drop dramatically, as people are making these decisions and as we are working on our guidance. So I’m encouraged to see those trends. »

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